This Year’s Cherry Blossom Festival. . . Cancelled?!

(Last minute flower viewing at the Komaba campus of the University of Tokyo.)

Yahoo.co.jp showed a photo today announcing the cancellation of this year’s cherry blossom festival in Chiyoda (part of Tokyo). That means the evening illumination of the flowers will not happen, say festival organizers. We all need to save electricity, certainly, but we may also need to celebrate the blossoms more this year than any other. It’s a chance to spend time with friends and family in beautiful natural settings with plenty of food and alcohol to grease the cogs of social harmony.

When I visited the company I used to work for in Kyoto, which provides luxurious accommodations in Kyoto townhouses, they said that although the houses had been booked solid for the sakura season, mostly by foreigners, cancels from abroad were pouring in. The tourism industry is hurting this cherry blossom season, even in parts of the country that were unaffected by the disaster and that rely on tourism revenue to sustain their economies.

Just today, I went to a party for the new graduate students in my department at the University of Tokyo. Most years it is a flower viewing party, but the food and drinks were served indoors this year. I have no idea who made that decision. However, at the end of the event, one professor suggested we go outside to view the blossoms, and we all tromped outside just as the sun was setting, lighting up the flowers magnificently. I love them now, just before they burst into full bloom in almost overwhelmingly fluffy pink clouds.

And thus the new academic year begins. . .